On Saturday, March 23, Temple (7-11) dropped the second game of a three-game weekend series to conference opponent St. Joseph’s University (10-11) 10-6 in 10 innings at Skip Wilson Field.
Despite a 3-0 lead for the second consecutive day and leading Saint Joseph’s by a score of 5-1 at the end of the sixth inning, the Owls fell to the Hawks after a four-run 10th inning, lead by two Saint Joseph’s doubles and a two-run home run.
“We got to get mentally tougher,” coach Ryan Wheeler said. “Every ball game the opposing team is going to make a run at you and you have to deal with the pressure and we just can’t seem to stop things from escalating.”
Just as they did in Friday’s matchup, the Owls jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. In the bottom of the second inning, a redshirt-junior center-fielder David Hall two-run homerun gave Temple the 2-0 lead. Following a freshman catcher Michael D’Acunti walk, a single from sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino gave the Owls the 3-0 lead over the Hawks.
Entering the bottom half of the fourth inning, back-to-back walks from Peterson had runners on first and second with no outs. But Peterson settled in to record two groundouts and an inning ending strikeout without harm. It was not until the top of the fifth inning that the Hawks earned their first hit of the afternoon against Peterson.
In the top half of the sixth inning, a sac-fly scored Saint Joseph’s first run of the game following a leadoff single and a walk. Peterson recorded the final two outs of the inning and the Owls lead 3-1 at the end of the top half of the sixth.
After allowing a run in the top of the sixth, the Owls added two runs of their own. A triple down the right field line from senior left-fielder Allen Stiles scored junior first baseman Derek Peterson, who reached on a leadoff hit by pitch. Hall recorded his second hit of the day as a single to left field scored Stiles. At the end of the sixth inning, the Owls lead the Hawks 5-1.
“I just didn’t feel like the game was in our hands at that point,” Wheeler said. “It’s up to the guys on the field to get it done. We have tried every tactic and we have to get it done out there on the field.”
Trailing by four runs, Saint Joseph’s put together a two-out seventh inning rally off of starting pitcher Eric Peterson. Three consecutive hits, headlined by a double to left-center field scored three Hawks’ runs. Freshman pitcher Connor Staskey replaced Peterson with two outs in the top of the seventh, recording the final out of the inning on a strikeout.
Eric Peterson finished the day with 6.2 innings pitched, four runs on five hits, while recording four walks and eight strikeouts, five of which came within the first five Saint Joseph’s batters of the game.
“I thought I did really well today,” Eric Peterson said. “I had the ability to go in and out with my pitches and I was throwing strikes.”
Following the two-out Saint Joseph’s rally, the Owls were able to earn back a run with two outs in the bottom half of the seventh. A Derek Peterson double scored senior third baseman Henry Knabe, who reached base on a two-out infield single to third base. At the completion of the seventh inning, Temple lead Saint Joseph’s 6-4.
In the top of the eighth, the Hawks completed their comeback as Owls’ freshman pitcher Connor Staskey was removed after loading the bases and recording one out. Redshirt-junior Ryan Kuehn entered for the Owls. Following a wild pitch that scored the Hawks first run of the inning, a sacrifice fly to center field tied the game. At the end of the top of the eighth inning, the Owls and Hawks were tied 6-6.
“I think we thought we were cruising,” Stiles said. “Our pitchers have struggled throwing strikes and that is one thing you can’t defend against, a walk.”
Following a scoreless bottom of the eighth for the Owls, both teams remained tied 6-6 after nine innings as well.
With Kuehn pitching in the top of the tenth inning, the Hawks bats came alive. A leadoff single, followed by back-to-back doubles gave Saint Joseph’s a two run lead. With a runner on second base, a two-run home run ultimately sealed the win for the Hawks, giving them a 10-6 lead entering the bottom of the tenth. Kuehn earned the loss for Temple, while Peterson earned a no decision.
“We came in hard and ready to go,” Stiles said. “We almost buried them, but they get hits after those walks and that’s what buried us today.”
Temple will have its final chance to earn its first conference win against Saint Joseph’s on Sunday at noon. Wheeler has named not named a starting pitcher for Sunday’s matchup against Saint Joseph’s.
“We’ve got the ability but its believing that you can get it done and get it stopped at different points in the ball game,” Wheeler said. “We are missing that right now.”
John Murrow can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @JohnMurrow12.